Strange days before Macworld Expo bring back talk of Hackintosh

In the days before the annual Macworld Expo (now with iWorld) in San Francisco, my inbox is flooded with guides to build a Hackintosh. Does anyone with any real work to do really want one?

Almost five years ago, I asked why a current Mac customer, or a potential Mac customer, or even someone interested in just kicking the tires would spend good money and precious time and effort in purchasing a Hackintosh. At the time, the post was about the exploits of the Psystar company, which proposed to sell "Mac clones."

But that was then and this is now and for some reason, my inbox suddenly is flooded with pitches for a booklet from Make Use Of with the title, Think Different: how to build your own Hackintosh. The author is Stefan Neagu. And, yes, there's a period in the book's title.

A Hackintosh PC, as the name would suggest, is a vanilla PC (built by you or a retailer other than Apple) running a hacked (or patched) version of Apple's Mac OS X operating system. OS X is specifically designed to run on Apple's hardware line; a Hackintosh is simply non-Apple hardware using the operating system.

Although Apple opposes the practice of hijacking their OS for use on off-brand PCs, many technology-oriented people who don't want to buy the hardware from Apple choose to spend a lot of time and effort in creating a Hackintosh.

It's not easy by any means, but this guide explains to you what's needed to get OS X running without a Mac.

From this pitch, I understand that there's someone, likely a PC stalwart, who wants to check out the Mac and OS X. And he or she doesn't want to spend the "outrageous amount of money" that would be needed for a real Mac from Apple. Instead, they want to waste their time on this hack.

It's all very strange. Firstly, the Macintosh is all about "easy" but here comes a project to make it all so very hard. One that doesn't necessarily work correctly and doesn't come with all the elements and technology that comprises the Mac experience today.

It comes at a point in time when customers can buy a Mac Mini for way under $900 (with tax) that supports OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, comes with Thunderbolt, the latest in expansion technology, USB 3 support, and Apple support. It is the real Apple experience.

This guide is different — and less effective — than the "value" Hackintosh pitch from a couple of years ago. For example, this LifeHacker article said that builders could make better Mac Pros in entry-level, mid-range, and high-end flavors and at half the price.

I don't buy this pitch either, but at least it's attempting to make a sensible argument.

The professional community is waiting on Apple for a new vision on performance computing on OS X . There's hope that we will see it arrive later this year. However, Hackintosh can't be seen as any part of the equation for OS X computing.

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